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Recently we tried Zip Realty‘s automated Home Valuation service where home owners can enter their property address to find their home’s value.  But we found ourselves disappointed.   The resulting page after we entered a Los Gatos home address showed 4 different values from 4 different services.   In fact, the Los Gatos home value ranged from $1.5 to $1.9 Million which is a $400,000 delta.   We are not sure how Los Gatos Home Owners are expected to account for the $400,000 difference between the values.   The page does NOT display Low, Median, Average or High range of both Active Listing or Recent Sales either.   

But will the Home Sellers find what they are looking for with ZipRealty?  Let’s examine the content of the ZipRealty search results in more detail : 

1) ResPrice.com :  This service was showing the Los Gatos home price at $1.5 million dollars.   

2) Zillow:  This value from Zillow.com is showing the value of the Los Gatos home at $1.9M which is typical of Zillow since they always report the highest values.  

3) Appraisal.com:  This value from this site is shown as  $1.5 Million dollars. 

4) HomeGain.com :  This value from HomeGain is at $1.7 Million dollars.  Ironically when we visited HomeGain’s site to generate a Home Value Report, the site claims that their product is under development.  So we are not sure ZipRealty folks were able to fetch this $1.7 million dollar value that they are reporting on their site from HomeGain!

The search results page from Zip Realty also include a definition of Automated Valuation Model (AVM) that we assume was utilized to arrive at these numbers.  However, what’s confusing to us is that none of these numbers are coming from ZipRealty!   They are coming from different websites.   AVM according to this page uses historical sales and price trends to determine property’s current value”.  The explanation goes on to say that AVM is a base line and reminds users that the only use available home sale history and the home characteristics reported in public records!  

Well, that’s where the rob might come in since anyone who has access to their public County records for their home knows that the data is utterly unreliable.   If the home owners have made remodeled their kitchen or bathroom without filing a permits, these records are never updated.   Also, these public records often has misleading information about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms associated with a home.

The other alternative on finding home values from ZipRealty’s Interactive Pricing  Tool which allows the users to adjust:

1) Number of Bedrooms 
2) Number of Bathrooms
3) Square Feet
4) Lot Size
5) Distance
6) Neighborhood

But even this page did NOT find any comps for the subject home for our search!  In short, we found ourselves disappointed at ZipRealty’s Automated Home Valuation page since the page does NOT display Low, Median, Average or High range of both Active Listing or Recent Sales either.   We believe the information about recent sale and active listings that could have been included in ZipRealty’s AVM calculations should be displayed to help home owners develop a better understanding of why there might be huge range among prices.   Also, there is no transparency in terms of including the foreclosure sales were included in this AVM.   There is no indication is this AVM is the Fair Market Value of a home or it’s Quick Sale Value.

That’s why we developed Free Home Value Report for our clients that include Recent Sales, Foreclosure Activity, School districts, Crime Index, Neighborhood data as well as a Rental Survey to provide as many marketing options for our sellers.   

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